Misogyny In The Law Of Moses: The Patriarchal Privilege To Veto The Vow

“When a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. 3 Or when a woman vows a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house, in her youth, 4 and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself, and says nothing to her; then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 But if her father expresses disapproval to her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself, shall stand; and the Lord will forgive her, because her father opposed her. 6 And if she is married to a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, 7 and her husband hears of it, and says nothing to her on the day that he hears; then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. 8 But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he expresses disapproval, then he shall make void her vow which was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips, by which she bound herself; and the Lord will forgive her.” (Numbers 30.2-8; emphasis mine, DLH)

There is hardly a concept more personal and privileged than one’s own thoughts. The impenetrable fortress of the intellect is a natural private domain. Yet in the ancient Hebrew culture which produced biblical literature, patriarchy trumped privacy, even with regards to a female’s deliberated determinations and personal commitments.

The patriarchal privilege and power to veto a woman’s personal vow is one of the most intrusive of all violations of privacy and is a most presumptuous form of misogyny. Though a seemingly subtle authority in that such neither violates one’s physical being nor exploits one’s services, nonetheless the right to regulate another individual’s personal commitments is a most substantive exercise of assumed hierarchy and usurped privilege.

The right of the Father and then later the Husband to veto the vow of the woman is not only a matter of patriarchal rule, but likewise upholds the principle of male property rights with regards to the woman. The Tenth Commandment clearly regards wives as the personal property of their husbands, and the fact that the patriarchal right to veto the woman’s vow passes from the Father to the Husband is an evident indicator that the ownership of the woman is transferred from the former to the latter at the point of marriage.

The disregard for the intellect of the woman was clearly deep rooted in a variety of ancient cultures, including that which produced the Bible. Hebrew mythology blamed the hardships of humanity on an independent woman who dared think for herself with regards to her choice of edibles, much as Gnostic mythology blamed an independent female deity who chose to reproduce without consulting her consort for the deficiencies of our earthly domain. And unfortunately, such backward and bigoted thinking was incorporated into the doctrine of the Church, as women are to learn in silence and subjection, and leave the teaching to the men.

Regardless of one’s religiosity, surely it is evident that the conventional and orthodox doctrines of the Church have been based upon backwards thinking and bigoted views towards women which originated in an ancient male oriented culture. Whereas it seems unfortunate that such blatant sexism was ever normalized and legalized in any ancient society, it is surely a shame that such thinking has been incorporated into any aspect of modern, civilized society.

(Next: “Misogyny In The Law Of Moses: The Patriarchal Rule Of The Father”)

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Misogyny In The Ten Commandments

The society which produced biblical literature was male oriented and misogynistic as to their thinking. Although most ancient cultures envisioned female deities in their tales and myths, the Hebrew world which produced the Old Testament usually identified God as a singular, male being. One particular Hebrew Creation Myth explains patriarchal rule as the divine order. It seems that once upon a time there was a woman who ate fruit from a tree which had been labeled as off limits by her male God. Naturally, as the narrative explained, that wanton act of rebellion subjected that particular woman to a life of patriarchal rule. Over the course of time, the basic interpretation of that myth became “what’s good enough for Adam is good enough for me”, hence all women of the ancient Hebrew culture were subjected to that same treatment. Thus, Eve’s punishment came to be regarded as a divine order of sorts. More reasonably, the writer responsible for the myth itself probably revealed the actual male oriented values of his day by way of this creative tale.

In fact, the ancient Hebrew culture which produced the biblical literature known as the Old
Testament was so male oriented that misogyny and the maltreatment of women were both normalized and legalized. Indeed, the hallowed Ten Commandments themselves were by no means exempt from the sexism which so characterized ancient Hebrew ideology:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20.17)

For this Tenth Commandment clearly documents that which so many Old Testament passages and accounts confirm; namely that the women of that society were regarded as mere male property. In other words, every good Hebrew male was lawfully bound to have the respect to refrain himself from coveting a fellow male’s personal possessions, among which included his wife.

This patriarchal dictate then was somewhat of a good old boys code of ethical conduct, yet there is no wording within the passage which would bind women to show the same respect to each other with relationship to their husbands. Thus, there was a loophole in this sexist commandment which allowed husbands to freely consort with concubines and prostitutes, but which certainly permitted no such liberties to wives.

The degradation of women and the double standard for men so dictated by this Tenth Commandment are clear indicators that the society which produced biblical literature both normalized and legalized misogyny and sexism. It is my personal view that ancient patriarchal standards should be left to the past, and that it is furthermore a shame that such were ever normalized and legalized in any setting.

(Next: “Females A Fraction Of The Worth, Yet Twice As Unclean”)

The Misogyny Of Moses

And so the killing began. Siblings watched as their brothers were executed. And then the remaining brothers themselves were executed. Mothers watched as their sons were executed. And then they themselves were executed. Children watched as their Mothers were executed. And then the sons themselves were executed. From young teen boys whose voices had barely begun to crack, to toddler boys barely able to walk, to baby boys in the clutches of their Mother’s arms. All the males and all the Mothers were executed.

As ordered by Moses.

It must have all been a bloody mess when the killing was done. The on the scene Priest even reminded the collective killers of their sanitation duties under the circumstances, as dictated by Hebraic Law. They were even reminded to sanitize the sex slaves that each of them had claimed.

For such was the fate of the virgin daughters of the Midianites. Their Fathers killed in battle. Their Mothers and their Brothers murdered before their very eyes. And then, as if to add insult to the most injurious of sinister circumstances, each of these young ladies was taken captive and forced to live the remainder of their lives as the sex slave of one of the Israelis soldiers who had murdered their family.

As ordered by Moses.

The trauma for these young ladies must have been inconceivable. It is hard to imagine that they ever recovered from the experience.

Sad to say, but such is the final legacy of one of the great names of biblical literature. The fact that the writer of this narrative would envision Moses himself as being the person who actually ordered the executions of the Midianite women and who arranged for sex slaves for each of the Israeli soldiers involved is unfortunate, while at the same time quite revealing. For according to this tale, among the final notable deeds of Moses were orders of the mass execution of women who he blamed for the shortcomings of his fellow Israeli males (typical “blame it on the woman” theme), the likewise execution of the male children of those same women, and the capture of young Midianite girls so they would live the remainder of their lives as sex slaves of the very Israeli soldiers who had already killed their family. This incident as described is a dreary and despicable affair, and the writer of such envisioned Moses himself as being the man who ordered and organized the entire affair.

The strong feelings of animosity which the writer of this tale feels for non-Jews is clear and evident, as are his assumptions of patriarchal entitlement. His xenophobic inclinations towards the Midianites is ironic in that the Midianites were allegedly distant cousins to the Hebrews, yet in the context of religious bigotry, the writer’s radical feelings are predictable. For as the Midianite women had supposedly once been a bad influence over the Hebrew men by encouraging them to worship other gods, the writer seems to have felt justified to see the whole lot of them executed. And their sons.

But not their virgin daughters.

As it is, the entire account was quite likely mythical. There seems to be more symbolism to the tale than realism, especially the claim that not a single Israeli soldier was killed in a battle that allegedly entailed the death of every male enemy combatant, including five kings. However; this narrative nonetheless reflects the unfavorable values of a vile and violent culture which both normalized and legalized murder and misogyny.

References: Numbers 31, Numbers 25

Next: “Misogyny In The Law Of Moses”

Misogyny In The Myth Of Sodom And Gomorrah

The Sodom and Gomorrah myth appears to have been a doublet, that is a story which is recorded twice in two different contexts in biblical literature. Each account entails out of town strangers being lodged by a hospitable host, only in turn to be subjected to the threat of gang rape. Such was averted in the Sodom and Gomorrah myth, though unfortunately not so in the lesser known doublet. These tales are representative of the vile and violent culture within which they were written, and likewise reflect commonplace bigotries of the day such as homophobia and misogyny.

As is the case with doublets in the Bible, there are certainly distinctions between these two narratives. The one takes place in Sodom; whereas the setting of the other was in Gibeah. The Sodom myth involves two males traveling together; whereas the Gibeah myth cites a man and his concubine (there is a passing mention of a male servant, yet his role in the tale was evidently too insignificant for further reference). The hospitable host in the Sodom myth has two daughters; whereas in the Gibeah myth only one daughter is mentioned. The Sodom myth was the pretext for the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah; whereas the Gibeah myth was the pretext for civil war against the Benjamite tribe of Israel. Indeed, there are distinctions between these two mythical tales, yet there are certain common elements as well.

In each of the two myths at hand, out of town travelers find lodging with admittedly hospitable individuals. Unfortunately, in each case there are groups of men who gather around the abode of the hospitable host, demanding to have sex with the male strangers therein. Inexplicably, in each case the hospitable host offers to send his daughters out to be gangraped in the place of the coveted male strangers. Although in neither case are the daughters actually sent out, the concubine of the Gibeah narrative was forced outside to the fate of an all night mass molestation, which lead to her subsequent death.

These two tales reveal specific cultural bigotries of the day. Each narrative stereotypes homosexuals as sexual predators, while at the same time each normalized misogyny. The fact that the group of sexual deviants wanted to gangrape those of their same gender paints homosexuality in an exclusively negative light. This is a transparent glimpse of the worldview of ancient Hebrew values. Additionally, the fact that modern day Homophobes often cite the Sodom myth as an authoritative source to justify their bigotry illustrates the detrimental effects of incorporating the values of ancient male oriented cultures into contemporary societies.

The fact that the hospitable host in each respective narrative offers to send his daughters out to be gangraped in order to protect his male guests blatantly normalizes misogyny. To add insult to the circumstances of a daughter being offered by her own Father to be gangraped is the fact that Lot, the Father in the Sodom myth, is described as a “righteous” man in New Testament biblical writings. To describe a Father who was willing to offer his own daughters to be the victim of a gangrape as being a “righteous” man trivializes women, a circumstance which was evidently commonplace in the ancient Hebrew world from which the Old Testament was produced.

As if the later biblical assessment of Lot is not insulting enough to women, consider the literary maltreatment of Lot’s wife in the course of time. Whereas Lot, in spite of offering his own daughters to be gangraped, is referred to in the New Testament as being righteous, his poor wife was murdered and then utilized in the later biblical writings as a bad example, merely because she looked back. To put this in context, the day after having to endure the emotional stress of having her husband offer to allow their daughters to be gangraped, this poor woman was murdered because she looked back. Because she looked back!

The double standard applied to the memory of Lot’s wife in later biblical writings, as contrasted to how Lot is memorialized, is the epitome of shameless sexism and misogyny. The degrading comment “Remember Lot’s wife” memorializes her as a bad example; whereas the memory of “righteous Lot” white washes the memory of a Father who was such a misogynist that he would offer his own daughters to be gangraped in order to save face and protect his male friends.

The mythical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed a case in point as to the detrimental effects of incorporating the ancient values of the male dominated Hebrew culture into modern society.

(NEXT: “The Misogyny Of Moses”)

Misogyny In The Creation Myths

Normalized misogyny and patriarchal rule are clear and consistent themes throughout biblical literature. The fact that the history of Western Civilization has traditionally reflected these same core values seems by no means coincidental. For so long as the template for social order in modern society involves a literal interpretation of the ancient myths of a male dominated culture, then we shall embrace the same bigotries which are recorded therein.

Indeed, the fundamental basis for patriarchal rule was introduced in the opening chapter of the Bible when God is identified as an exclusive and male entity. Despite the fact that the Creation Mythicist exposed the original generic perception of polytheism in Genesis 1.26 (“let us make man in our image”); nonetheless the later perception of a monotheistic deity prevails throughout both Creation myths as recorded in the Bible. And by identifying that God as exclusively male, the Creation Mythicists disenfranchised all women from any sense of equality with men, and relegated them to the status of second rate beings and insignificant consorts to their patriarchal rulers. Such was certainly the conclusion of the Garden Creation Myth, which may very well have been patched into the text immediately following the preceding Creation Myth to serve that very purpose.

For by blending these two Hebrew Creation Myths so as to read as one narrative, then such a reading leaves the false impression that the only reason the earth is not a blissful utopia is due to the fact that a woman named Eve ate an unidentified piece of fruit in a garden called Eden. In fact whereas the first Creation Myth concludes that all which God (the male figure) had made was good, the Garden Myth closes with Adam and his consort Eve banished from Eden, and cursed to a life of struggles and suffering due to Eve’s decision to partake of the forbidden fruit.

The degree of blame cast upon Eve was clearly irrational, and her punishment was likewise disproportionate to the deed, but such is commonplace throughout biblical literature. For whereas Eve became the scapegoat for all suffering and was sentenced to the lifelong rule of Adam simply because she ate a piece of fruit, Lot’s wife was killed simply because she looked back. For that matter, any newlywed wife who displeased her husband in bed was publicly shamed and stoned to death at her father’s doorstep, unless of course she could prove she was a virgin when she wed. Indeed, biblical literature reveals a male dominated culture in which women were subjected to double standards and were constantly vulnerable to the rash whims of the patriarchs in their lives.

In fact, the Hebrew culture was so male dominated, that patriarchal rule was regarded as natural for a woman to endure as were the pains she experienced while delivering children. This disturbing perspective derives from a literal interpretation of Eve’s punishment for eating the forbidden fruit as recorded in the Garden Myth. The case for a patriarchal order was ironically even further established as God punished Adam, for his indictment was that he listened to Eve, and thus partook of the forbidden fruit himself. The implication of course being that had he been a strong Patriarch and ignored the foolish woman that he would have remained blameless in the matter. It is somewhat ironic that Eve’s punishment was that she had to live under the rule of a man, even though that same man was chastised for his lack of leadership.

It is of course quite evident that these Myths merely reveal the culture and the worldviews of their respective writers, but therein lies the danger of interpreting these tales literally. For as hard as it is to conceive, even now in the 21st Century, there is still a sizeable demographic who maintain that the man is the natural head of the woman, and that the woman is therefore duty bound to subject herself to the rule of man. There is of course no natural basis for such a theory, which is why the Garden Myth is so significant to patriarchal thinkers. For without the Garden Myth to authorize patriarchal order, then there is no justification for male domination in any culture.

The manifestation of misogyny in the modern world ranges from the subtle conditioning of male dominance as a matter of church doctrine and personal faith, to celebrated males feeling entitled to verbally and sexually assault women, to the systemic oppression of double standards and intrusive dictates into the personal lives of women in general. Clearly, the influence of ancient male dominated Hebraic values as introduced into and forced upon modern society has lead to social discord in the way of defiant resistance from women who have chosen to become liberated from social convention and antiquated bigotry in our contemporary setting. And rightly so.

It is my personal view that until such time that Western society can mature past a dependency upon ancient Hebrew myths as a standard bearer for moral values and social order, that we will be doomed as a matter of our own making to live by the dictates of antiquated sexist values in the modern world.

(NEXT: “Misogyny In The Myth of Sodom and Gomorrah”)

On Biblical Standards and Natural Understanding

The Bible is a volume of writings which were hand selected (and in some cases hand edited) by the early Roman Church in the 4th century CE, and subsequently deemed as the exclusive and sacred word of God. About a thousand years later, these same writings were divided and organized into chapters, verses, and into a two fold division of an “Old” and a “New” Testament. The earlier major section of these writings reflects the personal, social, and religious values of a relatively isolated, desert people of an era of some two millenniums past; whereas the latter section reflects the ethical values of the Greco-Roman era of a slightly later time. The latter section likewise seems to serve as the subtext for a 2nd CE struggle between two general factions of the then recently conceived religious movement known as Christianity.

Each of the two major sections of the Bible center upon creative tales and embellished claims of the development of a select chosen people of God into an influential and powerful collective. In the first major section, that collective was visualized as the great and powerful nation of Israel. In the latter section, the collective so visualized was the institutional Church. There is a sense of validity to the existence of the respective collectives themselves, though in each case the chronology of the claimed circumstances are debatable, and the actual extent of influence and affluence are seemingly overstated, that is if taken literally.

The writings of the former major section are primarily composed of ancient Hebrew mythology, poetry, preaching, and the biased, fanciful tales of the over exaggerated national empire heretofore mentioned. The humble state of the allegedly once significant people is attributed to sin and faithlessness of the people themselves.

Meanwhile, the latter major section (evidently written primarily in the 2nd century CE) opens with the narrative of a wildly popular itinerant preacher who captured the interest and following of the local peasants, who conversely drew the ire of the religious establishment of the day, and who eventually was executed as a blasphemer. This young cleric’s claims of an impending apocalyptic crisis, coupled with the conclusion to the narrative being an empty grave and a claim that he was resurrected, lead to ever evolving claims of immortality, ascension, and even deity.

Although the content of the biblical narratives are primarily mythical tales, nonetheless there is no denying their worldwide influence even to this day. The first major section of the Bible is the forerunner for and serves as the foundation of the three major global monotheistic religions; namely Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The latter major section though is primarily the domain of the numerous sects of the Christian religion. In this respect, the influence of these texts in a variety of cultures simply cannot be overstated or underestimated.

Perhaps the most profound such influences have been realized in the realm of social relations. The adaptation of ancient thinking and harsh standards to modern societies has involved a predictable share of problems and unfavorable influence. Unfortunately, a number of unseemly social and systemic issues which plague contemporary cultures have precedent in and therefore may be founded upon biblical ideology.

Such include:

Patriarchy, Sexism, and Misogyny.
State sanctioned murder (aka Death Penalty, Capital Punishment)
Theocratic justifiable murder
Infanticide
Genocide
Religious Bigotry
Institutional Slavery/Exploitation of Labor
Sex Slavery
Militarism
Imperialism
Colonialism
Homophobia
Xenophobia

This list is not necessarily totally exclusive, and by all means some the of cited issues may overlap with each other. For example, the Old Testament authorized (even commanded) that non virgin newlywed wives should be executed for crimes against Israel. Such would constitute both Misogyny and Capital Punishment, which are each social issues to themselves, but in this case, they clearly overlap. There are several other such instances, but this example suffices for the moment.

The presumption then that biblical writings are of a sacred nature unfortunately can leave the false impression that the thinking of the people and the way of life of those depicted in biblical literature are somehow just and correct simply as a matter of record. And so to many people, mere biblical statements and examples are their basis to justify debatable social practices. And so, one might quote “an eye for an eye” to justify Capital Punishment, or “if any will not work, neither let him eat” to justify cutting funding for Food Stamps, with no need for further deliberation or alternative considerations. There is undoubtedly a “the Bible says it, that settles it” mentality among a large demographic of our society, but such is based upon the heretofore mentioned presumption that biblical writings are sacred in and of themselves.

Now, to be certain as to the matter; not all Jews, Muslims, and/or Christians are bigoted, homophobic, or misogynists; and for that demographic of religious monotheists I have the utmost respect. It is not easy for a Christian to take a “live and let live” perspective with regards to the LGBTQ community while they hear homophobic propaganda from their Preachers, nor is it easy for peaceful Muslims to conduct their lives while being slandered for the deeds of extremists Islamists. But the fact remains that the social values of many monotheists; especially here in the Southern region of the US, are based upon the social values of a desert people from an isolated region of over 2,000 years ago.

And thus the conclusion of the matter at hand:

Shall we, as individuals and as collective societies, base our standards upon our own natural understanding of “right and wrong”, or shall we allow our natural senses to be influenced by ancient writings from harsh and somewhat barbaric cultures? Shall we trust our common sense and natural sense of compassion as a moral guide, or shall we trust the harsh standards of a people of antiquity?

I suggest that such queries are not so much a matter of faith or religious ideology, but a much more basic reality of natural existence and common sense.

As for me, I choose to trust my own natural understandings.

But to each their own.

Introducing An Alternative Blog: A Skeptic’s Bible Studies

After giving this matter some thought, I have decided to create a topic specific blog as an alternative to my ahumanistsperspective.wordpress.com site. Now, by no means will I abandon my Humanists Perspective site, for such is and will remain a viable outlet for my thoughts and writings. However; as those of you who have read my Humanists Perspective site may have noticed, I have a keen interest in the Bible, and write on such from time to time. As I think on it, I tend to write on the Bible from two perspectives, only one of which really relates to the concerns of humanism.

On the one hand, I am proned to write on my concerns regarding the Religious Right. I am a firm proponent of the separation of Church and State, and the contemporary social climate of Right Wing Religious sorts only affirms my concern with regards to such. That said, I oftentimes address the Right Wing extremism which has plagued our society by critiquing the Bible itself, for the simple reason that so often times archaic Hebrew principles are incorporated into the thinking of our society through the influence of Fundamentalist Christians. There is too much bigotry and sexism whose root is founded upon religious ideology that frankly should have gone by the wayside aeons ago. Thus, I believe that Bible discussions in that context and toward the end of contesting the Religious Right, are discussions which are most definitely suited for my Humanists Perspective site, and thus I shall continue in that regard.

I also have an interest in good old fashioned Biblical exegesis; although my perspective is anything but old fashioned. Having been raised on the Bible, I suppose I am just too taken with the book that I once took literally, and simply must continue to study the Hebrew scriptures now that I am able to view such from a completely different perspective than I did in years gone by. For whereas I once considered the Bible to be literal and historical, I now view such to be a national myth and mostly allegorical. And in this regard, I am simply fascinated by both the Hebrew Bible (aka: Old Testament), and the Judeo and Hellenic writings known as the New Testament.

And so I now view the heroes of the Old Testament to be representative of specific facets of the making of a Nation, and the New Testament to be representative of a mystical replacement for national aspiration long lost in view of promises for a messianic delivery forever forgotten. My perspective then is that The Old Testament is a myth of the hopes of a great nation in the making, and the New Testament became a mystical substitute for a nation of people who were both defeated and dispersed to a life of insignificance and non-identity.

It is from these perspectives then that I will share some of my studies, and record my reflections in this; a skeptic’s bible studies.

So if you are so inclined, please do suscribe to: https://askepticsbiblestudies.wordpress.com/

Either way, thank you for reading.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

Adam and Eve: A Myth About Reality

Myths are a fascinating form of communication. Not only do myths teach and reveal certain very basic truths, but they can also be quite revealing as to the way the narrator thinks. This in turn can and oftentimes does offer the reader a glimpse into the world in which the narrator lived. The clues as to such are in the details, and the details are that which; to me, make myths such a fascinating form of communication.

Take as an example the myth of Adam and Eve. Undoubtedly, one of the best known myths of our era. The myth of Adam and Eve of course relates the story about the original couple, who the narrator portrays as having lived together once upon a time in a paradise known as the Garden of Eden. Per the myth, Adam and Eve unfortunately failed to live up to the standards of God, who had made the effort to plant the garden on behalf of the charter couple. Thus, they were expelled from the garden, into the real world, where they lived….. Well, unlike many myths, which conclude with the words “and they lived happily ever after”, no such concept is presented in the myth of the original couple. Rather, they merely lived. And such is actually the most basic lesson that I myself take from the myth of Adam and Eve.

For once you get past human beings springing forth from soil and surgeries, forbidden fruit trees, and talking Serpents, this myth is reduced to a most fundamental truth based upon a rudimentary reality. That reality being that life is a constant struggle against one’s immediate elements, and then we decay, and then we die. Such is life. And that is actually the point, for if nothing else; the myth of Adam and Eve is a commentary on life. And so how ironic that the myth begins in Paradise, for actually this myth is not only about life, but more specifically life in the real world.

And it is at this point in the myth that I personally feel comfortable to analyze the content, even though the banishment into the real world somewhat concludes that which is commonly regarded as “the creation account”. In my studies, the analysis begins at that point for the simple reason that this is where the myth gets real. I cannot relate to magically produced men, and women that spring forth from a side splitting surgery. Nor can I relate to magic trees and talking serpents. But I can relate to the struggles of everyday life, working “by the sweat of the brow” in order to make a living and pay bills. And I can relate to physical hardships. Furthermore; having witnessed the birth of my three children, I even have an abstract appreciation for the hardships of my feminine sisters in the family of humanity. The struggles of the human experience. Such is what life is. Such is what the described curse upon Adam and Eve is all about. And so I relate on an existential level to the curse of the hardships of the human experience as described in Genesis 3. Thus, it is at this point of continuity with the narrator that I am able to analyze the myth itself, and thereby ascertain the message so revealed.

When I read the narrator’s description of the curses that God put upon Adam and Eve, I am immediately aware that the writer is like myself: A working man who endures each day of life as a means to survive, and just doing his best in the process. A man who struggles everyday to survive. A man who wanders why life has to be so tough, but a man who has no time to overthink the situation which is the human experience because he has to remain kinetic just to stay above ground so to speak. Like Bob Seger, he is running against the wind. Like Bob Dylan, he is a rolling stone who cannot afford to take a day to rest. And like Robert Frost, he would like to stop and take it all in, except he has promises to keep, and miles to go before he sleeps. Indeed, the curse of God upon the charter couple of humanity is the reality of the myth of Adam and Eve which navigates this tale from fantasy to reality. And as is always the case, reality is that which unites all humanity, for reality; such as it is, is all that any of us has ever known.

Now there is another internal detail relative to the myth of Adam and Eve which I suggest offers clear insight as to the gender of the narrator. It seems obvious to me that that the narrator is a male. Not that this question has ever been debated. I merely suggest that the gender of the narrator is evident by the internal details, and therefore does not have to be accepted merely as a matter of tradition. Now the reason I am so certain that the narrator is a man is that I find it hard to believe that any woman would throw her sister Eve under the bus to take the blame throughout all Hebrew history for the hardships which are natural to the human experience. But frankly, I can see a man doing so. I truly can. Sad to say, but it is an all too often male thing to do. “Blame it on Eve” is an all too prevalent pattern of male behaviour which seeks to transfer blame for perceived failures as a means to process the frustrations of the hardships of the daily experience of the human predicament. It is therefore no stretch of the imagination to picture the narrator of the myth doing the same either cognizantly or subconsciously.

And inasmuch as the narrator did indeed take the low road by blaming the woman in the story for all the natural hardships of the entire human experience; nonetheless the poor guy was likely a product of his environment. Not that such justifies his literary blame shift, but no doubt his patriarchal perspective was a conditioned experience. In fact there are two clear internal indicators in the myth which are revealing as to the extent of the patriarchy of his day. One such indicator is that the setting of the sinful deed involves the doings of an independent woman. The second such factor is that she did so while separate from an inattentive man. Now, when I say independent woman, I do not mean that she was not an individual with a mind of her own and who had the freedom to express her will and explore her world on her own, for such I believe to have been her natural right. However; I daresay that the society of the narrator would by no means maintain such an open mind as to her rights of individuality. And when I say inattentive man, I do not mean he did not bring her flowers or failed to say ‘I love you’ to the woman enough. Rather I mean that in the eyes of the narrator’s society, Adam would have been deficient in keeping an eye on her activities and maintaining control over her comings and goings. Now, such thinking is limited, antiquated and stifling. And certainly unacceptable by the standards of a society which has been socially enlightened as to the reality of the equality of the genders. Nonetheless; I do not doubt that the world in which the narrator lived would have judged Adam as deficient in his social duties as a man due to his being inattentive as to the comings and goings of Eve, while at the same time would have judged Eve as defiant and deficient in her social obligations as a woman due to the fact that she actually dared to think and function for herself. Hence, the narrator portrays a scenario which I suggest both reveals him not only as a man, but likewise as a man who was a product of a patriarchal society.

The myth of Adam and Eve being the literary creation of a man who was the product of a patriarchal environment, then the qualifying of an act of autonomous volition by an independent woman as an explanation for all the natural hardships of the human experience is somewhat to be expected, if not outright predictable. But by no means justifiable.

The fallout of such limited thinking of course has been the ongoing subjugation of the female in societies so influenced by this ancient myth. And aside from the clear cut moral deficiency of patriarchal thinking and sexist ideology, the shame of the situation is that such ruins the effect of and misses the most fundamental point of that which to my way of thinking is a most profound and practical literary creation of the human imagination. For the myth of Adam and Eve is simply an astounding literary commentary on the existential reality that life is no paradise, and that ultimately the human experience is that of incessant drudgery, unavoidable decay, and an inevitable death. And I personally have no doubts that the creator (no pun intended) of the myth of Adam and Eve was struggling with that very reality. And so he responded with a literary tale truly representative of his times. And thereby blamed Eve for all the natural hardships of the human experience. Well, I suppose everyone has to cope with the human predicament on their own terms.

For the fundamentalist Christian copes with the realities of the hardship of the human experience by aspiring to an eternal existence with Jesus in the sweet by and by.

And many of the early Christians (and a few of the contemporary ones) coped with such by envisioning returning to a loving, merciful, and sweet heavenly Father who sent Jesus to earth to deliver them from the evil Creator God Jehovah.

Then there are the earth bound humanist types of philosophies which rationalize life as an experience to be lived, and death as simply a part of that process.

As for myself, I am an earth bound humanist type who qualifies as an Atheist and who reasons as an Epicuran. I rationalize life as an unavoidable experience, friendship and fellowship with my familiars as the most viable means of security and satisfaction, and death as release from suffering and a return of my elements to the earth to be recirculated into some other form of natural existence.

Life is no paradise, and speaking for myself I do not anticipate such after I expire.

But then, who knows?

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas